Deciding to invest in a medical alert system, whether for yourself or a loved one, can be a difficult decision. According to Colorado State’s Center for Disease Control, each year 2.5 million adults who are 65 and older are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries alone. The direct medical costs for these fall injuries are estimated at $34 billion annually, two-thirds of which come from hospital costs. These numbers don’t even begin to touch on the countless other types of medical emergencies that can happen inside the homes of independent seniors and people with special needs.
Almost 90 percent of seniors say they prefer to live in their own homes versus an assisted living facility. And of course, as family, you want to respect their decision, but more importantly you want to make sure they are safe. A medical alert system can save you from expensive medical costs, and more importantly it can save lives. But choosing the right medical alert company is just as important as the decision to have a system in the first place.
As we inspect LifeStation’s medical alert system we’re looking to see how well it helps minimize the risk of medical emergencies, and whether or not it’s an affordable option for you and your loved ones.
LifeStation’s low-cost and contract-free medical alert service unfortunately was not enough this year to crack our top 5 medical alert companies but we invite you to research for yourself and let us know what you think.
LifeStation pros and cons
LifeStation pricing & packages
One of LifeStation’s most attractive qualities is its contract-free service. LifeStation offers discounts for long-term prepayment plans and you don’t have to sign a contract. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, even on month-to-month service. The three different payment options for LifeStation offer the same features and functionality at term-based, discounted prices. However, not all their pricing options are advertised clearly on their website, so make sure to call for additional information. Initially we were under the impression that LifeStation only offered landline services, however, LifeStation has since reached out to give us a pricing breakdown of their cellular and Premium GPS offers, as follows:
|Product||Monthly Plan||Quarterly Plan||Annual Plan|
|Mobile Emergency Button||$9.95/month||$9.95/month||$9.95/month|
Now, considering that LifeStation has a 30-day refund policy, what happens if your loved one suffers a medical emergency and passes away three months into the plan? There was never any contract signed, but by prepaying for the service, you are now paying for nine months of medical alert services that are not being provided and are no longer needed. That’s $233.55 that will not be refunded.
With a prepaid service, at some point you’re going to run into a situation like this, whether it’s two months or two years down the line. If you choose LifeStation as your medical alert provider, we strongly recommend sticking to the month-to-month plan to potentially save more in the long run. The most you’re ever going to save is $48 over an entire year with the annual payment plan, which, in our opinion, isn’t worth dealing with the hassle and frustration while grieving.
LifeStation's Key Features
The performance of a medical alert system depends on its monitoring center. LifeStation handles their own monitoring in their in-house call monitoring center which means you’ll be connected directly to one of LifeStation’s CSAA-certified Care Specialists.
Although you can communicate with a monitoring agent through the base unit, voice-to-voice communication is not possible through the wearable device. This raises some major safety concerns for anyone who suffers a medical emergency out of range of the base unit. Consider the following situation:
"Jason’s rambler style home has both a basement and garage. He keeps the base unit to his LifeStation alert system centrally located in the kitchen. One day, while working in the garage, Jason suffers a medical emergency. He always wears his emergency pendant around his neck, but since the monitoring service is calling him on the base unit in the kitchen, Jason can’t respond to the monitoring agent’s call. If Jason’s wearable were equipped with two-way communication, he could speak to the monitoring professional and explain the nature of his emergency."
LifeStation’s FAQ addresses these concerns:
If we are unable for any reason to talk to you, a LifeStation Care Specialist will contact those you have pre-selected (local EMS, neighbors, relatives — whomever you choose).
So, it seems that LifeStation is aware of the issue and chooses to tackle the problem by having you predetermine a course of action. Although, they’re not ignoring the problem, in a medical emergency situation, every second counts, and we’re not convinced that the added response time is the most effective solution to the problem.
LifeStation’s medical alarm equipment automatically conducts weekly tests to ensure that the equipment is functioning properly. As far as we can tell, LifeStation is the only medical alert company to offer automatic testing of their equipment. It’s nice to know your system will work when you need it to.
Built-in Battery Backup
LifeStation’s battery is designed to last up to 32 hours and will self-charge when power is restored, both of which are pretty standard across the industry. LifeStation will also replace a faulty battery for free. It is unclear whether the weekly tests check for a faulty battery or not, so if you choose this system, you might want to ask how you know if the battery is faulty before it becomes a problem.
Lifestation Reviews: What Customers Think
"My father became a widower recently and I live 45 minutes away. Out of the 3 companies I researched, yours was in detail, the services, your equipment was easily seen by my father (nice size pendant and large red button on monitor). When ordering, your Care Specialist was polite, answered my questions completely and I felt relieved that my father could get the help he needed quickly. Nothing is as important, as to have your family protected. This is a great burden, to make sure my dad will be fine living on his own as he want to be independent. Thank You!"
—Louise F. Carmel, NY lifestation.com
"I ordered the LifeStation because my mother lives alone. She has many friends and family that are with her or in contact with her during the day but my concern is for her during the night as I am afraid she will fall. The LifeStation helps me sleep better at night knowing that help is just a push button away."
—Connie S.Orlando, FL lifestation.com
“The LifeStation service was fine. The problem came about when it was time to cancel service after several years of service. I paid for a full year in August and cancelled service in December. Guess what? No prorated refund. "That's our policy" said the Tai, the customer service rep. Of course she could not point me to the policy, nor is anything posted online about returns and/or cancellation of service. That is such a shady business model that takes advantage of every customer (at some point) and leaves the last impression of the company as horrible. Stay away from LifeStation or don't pay in advance.”
—Andrew of Galveston, TX on Dec. 21, 2015 consumeraffairs.com
"Yet another case of LifeStation being totally unreasonable with their billing practices and the effectiveness of their products. I ordered the unit along with the mobile unit at the insistence of their salesperson that the mobile unit would work outside the home. I challenged the sales rep since I knew the cell service was not very good but was assured it would work since lifestation is not married to any particular cell service and simply uses the closest cell tower. The unit did not work and the day it was opened and tested did not work, so I was told to return the unit and would get a refund. They have refused to give me a full refund even though the unit was never used and returned plus I had to pay shipping to return their unusable product. I would not recommend doing business with a company like this with such low morale standards.”
—Gary of Delafield, WI on Feb. 5, 2016 consumeraffairs.com
Would we recommend LifeStation?
We like the weekly automatic testing LifeStation provides, but it’s not enough to push it over the top of other similarly priced systems. Overall, LifeStation is an affordable system without a lot of extra bells and whistles. Our main hesitation is that fall detection does not come standard and we’d like to see voice-to-voice communication on the pendant . For the same monthly price you can double your pendant range (1,300 feet) by going with one of our favorite medical alert systems, Medical Guardian.